Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Greatness Is Not Enough To Go Viral

The Turkish butcher who found a cool way to salt a steak. The backpack kid who invented flossing. And Donald Trump’s covfefe. All three events spread across the globe like a bad cold and went viral.

Looking back, it was inevitable that these three phenomena would become world famous.

Except it wasn’t.

No YouTube video, Tik Tok clip or Twitter tweet behaves like the measles. No idea is that contagious. No matter how amazing

Take the most famous artwork in the world, the Mona Lisa. 

The painting is so precious to us that she gets better protection than most world leaders. 

So why does the Mona Lisa get this special treatment? After all, she doesn’t even have eyebrows.

Well, we didn’t always think highly of the Mona Lisa. It used to be just another da Vinci. 

But that changed after a former handyman stole the Mona Lisa out of the Louvre in 1911. He simply took it off the wall and hid it underneath his coat as he walked out the exit. 

Nobody even noticed the painting was missing until a day after its disappearance.

Although it seemed nobody really cared about the work, the heist became a media sensation. 

The painting made headlines across all major newspapers in the world. Journalists wrote fanfiction about the theft. And visitors visited the Louvre just to see a plain nail in the wall that once carried a masterpiece. 

When she was finally recovered two years later, the press called it “[…] the most beautiful ever painted.”

What changed?

Simple. We got familiar with it and we like what we recognize.

That’s not pop psychology. That’s science.

When you see or hear something you recognize, certain parts of your brain activate and release oxytocin. More commonly known as the feel-good hormone. 

Get exposed to something enough and you’ll like it for no real reason. That’s why ex prisoners can actually miss jail, they’ve been in there for so long.

So it’s not that the Mona Lisa is actually the greatest artwork in the world. It’s simply the greatest artwork we all know. 

Greatness is not enough to rise to the top and go viral. You need to be seen in the spotlight first.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach